Cake and pastries are both famous desserts in the world.
They are common in home, bakeries, and other food chains, and some have different forms, shapes, and flavors.
Both may be similar on the outside, but they have a significant number of differences.
Let us now discover the difference between cake and pastry.
The cake is a baked dessert or sweet food that is commonly present on different occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
It comes in various shapes and flavors, and you can modify it according to your desires.
Its main ingredients are flour, sugar, eggs, butter, baking soda, baking powder, and oil.
The cake is a versatile dessert that you may prepare in different ways.
The commonly used shapes are round, rectangular, square, and even triangular.
The flavors may include vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, mocha, black forest, etc.
A pastry is a baked product usually seen on breakfast preparation and small occasions.
The pastry-making is so easy, and it has ingredients including flour, water, and butter.
The pastry is rolled or patted out into thin sheets in pie or tart pans to enclose fillings.
It generally appears like the shape of a cake, but it has fewer flavors.
Common Types of Pastries
- Shortcrust: People are using it for the base of a tart, quiche, pie, etc. It lacks a leavening agent, so it does not puff up during baking.
- Puff: It has equal weights of fat and flour. The air is trapped between the layers of dough to give a delicate, light, and crisp finish.
- Flaky pastry: This is an unleavened pastry that is light and flaky. It is also known as blitz pastry or rough puff.
- Rough-puff crust: This type of pastry shares some features with flaky pastry. In this dish, the incorporation of fats is different.
- Filo pastry: The pastry uses a thin unleavened dough, so it looks like thin sheets. It also has a casing for various soft, savory, and sweet dishes.
Below are pieces of information comparing the difference between cake and pastry.
A cake is generally larger than pastry.
Cake’s main ingredients are wheat flour, sugar, eggs, butter, and oils. In contrast, the pastry has only wheat flour, sugar, and butter in it.
And for making a cake taste and look appetizing, you may use icing coming from several ingredients.
The process of making is also another point of difference. Cakes are a bit complicated to bake as compared to pastries. However, the hardships are worth it!
The cake appears in different shapes. The most prevalent ones are round, square, triangle, and rectangular shape.
Cake vs Pastry
Both of them are available in mouth-watering flavors, but the cake has more flavors than pastry.
The pastry is not highly decorated and comes in limited flavors as compared to cakes.
The cake contains proteins, vitamins, and carbohydrates. In contrast, the pastry is high in fatty acids and carbohydrates.
Cakes are mostly served in ceremonial events, particularly, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and merrier events.
Pastries are mostly for breakfast and small celebrations. They are usually consumed in times of sweet cravings.
Common types of cake include carrot cake, black forest, spice cake, chocolate cake, and more.
Pastries include shortcrust, puff, flaky and rough puff crust. There are types like pies, eclairs, et cetera too.
A Problem of Definition
You are probably thinking about what a cake or pastry looks like, but you find it tricky to define one. It is because both the terms are broad.
Pastry refers to certain baked products that are formed from a dough. In comparison, a cake can encompass a whole range of desserts.
We should take a look these one at a time, comparing first the type of dough or batter, and then the products themselves.
Dough and Batter
The pastry is made from a stiff dough comprised of flour, water, and fats. They are solid at room temperature.
You can use the dough as a base, crust, or shell, depending on the type.
Cakes look like bread because they originated from a sweetened bread.
The batter that is for cake is typically wetter than pastry, with flour, sugar, eggs, oil or soft butter, liquid (often milk), and a leavening agent as the main ingredients.
The crumb tends to be moist, and a cake is often layered, iced, or decorated with sweet toppings.
It’s a Matter of Flour
Cake may resemble bread more than a pastry does, but the flour used for it is different.
It all boils down to the amount of protein in the flour, with higher levels of protein (typically around 10-12%) being found in pastry flour, and lower levels (approximately 7.5-9%) in cake and biscuit flour.
The protein forms the gluten strands when the flour is mixed with water, and too much gluten in a cake would make its crumb dry and tough.
It’s not the usual light texture that you would find in a chiffon cake, for example.
The eggs provide leavening to the protein structure which helps it to rise, catching the gases produced by the leavening agent.
The chemistry is quite different in some cases. For starters, bakers sometimes use a less powerful leavening agent to prevent the dough from rising too much.
The addition of fat to the dough hinders the gluten from forming too strongly, giving the pastry a crumbly texture.
The gluten in pastry dough is for the creation of layers.
The moisture in the dough is converted to steam and when caught between layers, causes the pastry to puff up, as with Danish pastries and croissants.
The result is a light, crispy, flaky consistency, very different from that of cakes.
Cheese, Banana, And Tea Cakes?
It starts to get a little bit confusing when we know the different desserts that are made from pastry dough.
Both cake and pastry have cream, topped with fruit, and dusted with icing sugar, to name just a few.
Modern cakes can be sweet desserts other than those based upon a baked batter and can even use a pastry or pastry-like base.
Banoffee pie and cheesecake are both considered cakes but use either pastry or crumbled biscuit as their base covered with dairy toppings.
None of these cakes use a leavening agent.
In the end, fruit cake, banana cake, and tea loaves stand on the border regarding their differences. It makes the identification simple yet confusing.
Sweet treats can be a pastry or cake, but the dough and batter are a determining factor.
The rest of them seems to be a matter of custom. It depends on the culture because we have different styles of dishes depending on this aspect.
In the English-speaking countries, a pastry will always be from pastry dough, whereas the cake is flexible.
There are types of cake that uses little to no flour and is not from the classic cake batter.
The popularity of gluten-free baking in recent years has given rise to many flour-free cakes, including some variations on traditional classics.
Not all cultures categorize their desserts in the same way. However, they may not have the broad meaning of the word ‘cake’.
But, as long as you know the difference between cake and pastry, it doesn’t matter what you call it.
Rest assured, doesn’t matter if it is a cake or a pastry, they all taste good!